Residents in South Fulton, Georgia say a new security installation at their local Kroger store has left them upset and feeling racially stereotyped.
The “caged” aisles at the Kroger on Old National Highway only have one way in and one way out, keeping laundry detergent and other common household items securely behind a large glass partition.
Now, many shoppers say they don’t feel welcomed at the grocery store.
“I think it’s kind of racist you definitely see that here on Old National,” a mother of three who just finished shopping told Atlanta’s CBS46, adding: “You won’t see that in Fayetteville or in Cobb County anywhere. Doubt it.”
The new anti-theft measure only allows in one person at a time to get what they need, leaving residents fuming over what they say feels like shopping in a prison. However, other shoppers admit stealing is a major issue at the grocer.
Some told CBS46 that customers will swipe items from the shelves and use them in the restroom without paying. Still, a South Fulton police officer on duty at the store told the outlet that the Kroger doesn’t experience any more theft than other stores in the area.
Though some shoppers acknowledge theft is a problem, they said they believe a less intimidating, less offensive approach should be taken.
“Of course you don’t want to come in to where you’re afraid to shop, because you’re afraid someone’s going to steal or you’re afraid you’re going to be enclosed in the environment of them stealing, so of course you’re going to take precautions, but I don’t know if that’s the safest precaution,” a longtime Kroger shopper said.
A Kroger spokesman addressed the controversy in a statement.
“These changes are being implemented to help improve operational efficiencies, provide better inventory management and increase profitability,” it read. “We take pride in keeping our shelves fully stocked with the items our customers want and need and we believe these changes, which are part of a pilot project, will help us do so.”
In 2018, Walmart faced similar backlash after locking skin and hair care products marketed to African-Americans behind a glass case. A California woman sued the retail giant for racial discrimination, accusing the store of “segregating” Black beauty products from the other items.
Watch more in the video below.